- Saloma Furlong
- I am the author of the memoir "Why I Left the Amish." In February 2012, I was featured in the PBS documentary "The Amish" that aired on American Experience. I was born and raised in an Amish community in Ohio. Driven by my desire for freedom and more formal education, I broke away from my community –– not once, but twice. I graduated from Smith College in May 2007 with a major in German Studies and a minor in Philosophy. My education has included research on the Amish with Dr. Donald Kraybill and a semester abroad in Germany, where I studied at the University of Hamburg. During my thirty-year inner struggle of coming to terms with my Amish past, I have gleaned a better understanding of myself and my heritage. It is this perspective that I bring to my reflections about Amish.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Anonymous asked: Are Amish dresses uncomfortable?
Simply put -- yes. At least the women's dresses are. They got more so when polyester fabrics became available. The Amish women couldn't resist the no-iron option, so polyester was in vogue when I was in my late teens. In the summertime, it was like being pinned into a plastic bag -- with straight pins. And then when I dressed up to go somewhere, such as church services, weddings, funerals, and other social gatherings, I had to wear the extra covering called a "halstuch." Now I had two layers of material pinned down my front. Getting stuck in the chest or the side (where the waistband is pinned) is never fun.
Young girls dresses are more comfortable. They button down the back, rather than being pinned down the front. While they can be cumbersome for outdoor games, they are not uncomfortable. Going from a girl's dress to a woman's dress is not an easy transition (at least it wasn't for me), which happens during adolescence.
Amish women do complain about the unfairness of having to wear dresses with pins when the men have buttons on their shirts, but they put up with it. If they didn't, they most likely wouldn't put up with other things unfair. Amish communities wouldn't exist if the women didn't play out their roles. The outward symbols of their submissiveness is their dresses and hair coverings, no matter how uncomfortable.